'Next question': Premier grilled on why Bunnings remains open

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to explain why Bunnings Warehouse remains open during what she describes as one of the “harshest” lockdowns the country has seen.

Ms Berejiklian was quizzed by Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell during her daily Covid-19 update about why some non-essential services remain open, despite surging cases of Covid-19.

“Obviously the lockdown rules we have in NSW are some of the harshest our nation has seen,” she said.

“Why is The Reject Shop open?,” Mr Clennell probed Ms Berejiklian.

She argued non-critical retail stores should not be open.

“Why is Bunnings open? It’s not open in Queensland,” Mr Clennell asked.

“Next question,” Ms Berejiklian said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney. Source: AAP
As NSW recorded 233 cases of Covid-19, Premier Gladys Berejiklian dodged a question about why Bunnings stores remain open during the Greater Sydney lockdown. Source: AAP

Bunnings stores remain open in NSW and Queensland

Bunnings actually is also open in Queensland despite the latest outbreak.

Ms Berejiklian's decision to pass on his question came after several Bunnings stores and retail outlets were featured on a staggering list of 174 new exposure sites in NSW.

In the last fortnight alone, 11 Bunnings stores have been added as exposure sites.

The state recorded 233 new local infections on Wednesday with a man in his 20s one of two new deaths from the virus.

Bunnings advises customers via its website it is classified as critical and remains open for the supply of materials for the emergency repair and maintenance of homes and essential infrastructure.

The logo of Wesfarmers Ltd.'s Bunnings Warehouse is displayed at a store in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday, July 28, 2011. Source: Getty Images
A number of Bunnings stores were featured on a staggering list of 174 new exposure sites in NSW. Source: Getty Images

Essential shopping warning as Covid-19 cases rise in Queensland

Shoppers in Queensland have been put on notice, as the State’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young questioned whether buying pot plants is really essential.

The sunshine state reported 16 new locally acquired infections on Wednesday, including one unlinked case in Cairns.

Queenslanders will remain in lockdown until at least Sunday, with Dr Young urging a slim majority of residents to reconsider if they need to go shopping.

"I just like people to reflect a little bit more about – is it essential? Because last year I didn't have any problems with Bunnings being open, and people going and buying pot plants and doing some gardening but that was with previous variants," she said.

"We just need to ramp it up. This is Delta. It's so much more contagious that really we have just got to, as I say, ramp it up and really for the next five days think, 'Do I really need to leave the house?”

Bunnings is an ‘essential service’: retail expert

Despite backlash over some shops remaining open during Greater Sydney’s strict lockdown, a retail expert says Bunnings actually does provide “essential services.”

“I know myself, I had a plumbing leak on my property, the plumbers arrived and the first thing they did was head to Bunnings to get equipment to fix the problem,” said QUT’s Professor Gary Mortimer.

From emergency repairs to maintenance around homes, Mr Mortimer said hardware retailers provide an essential service.

“While we tend to discount hardware retailers, they actually do play a very important role. Access to emergency supplies to hardware, plumping, and electricals. If a tree was to fall over, the homeowner may need tools or a tarp.”

Customer information notices are displayed at the entrance to an aisle at a Bunnings Warehouse store during a partial lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, May 25, 2020. Source: Getty Images
Retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer says hardware stores like Bunnings are an essential service and should remain open during the lockdown. Source: Getty Images

As Bunnings stores continue to be listed as exposure sites, he believes it isn't household gardeners doing non-essential trips to the hardware. 

“I would imagine the people that do attend Bunnings, they are not buying pot plants but they would potentially be buying timber, hardware, electrical, plumbing, light globes, those types of products,” he said.

“I don’t believe people are out there shopping for non-essential items and I would advise against window shopping and browsing.”

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